It’s all beautifully rehearsed and obviously so, yet she is irresistible.
Nick Barraclough 2010
It’s hard to maintain objectivity when you simply love an artist so much, and this writer’s enthusiasm was shared by the London O2 audience in July 2008, who gave Dolly such a deservedly rapturous reception.
As Kenny Rogers said of Dolly, “An artist is: who she is, who she thinks she is, and who her fans think she is; and the closer those three are together, the more complete that artist is. None is more complete than her.” Parton is unparalleled as writer, singer, business woman and self-publicist, still. At 62, she managed to put on a show with the energy of a performer half her age.
You get a DVD too, with this package, but one hardly needs it: the audio conjures up a vivid image of a huge show, with a crash, bang, and wallop start. All the hits, a couple of newish ones, and Dolly whooping, hollering and chattering for all she’s worth.
It will always be a puzzle, how an artist who is so contrived – not only in her physical appearance, but also in the way she talks, to audiences and interviewers alike – continues to court such adoration. She tells the same stories, uses the same gags, the same thanks from the bottom of her heart. It’s all beautifully rehearsed and obviously so, yet she is irresistible. And, most importantly, we buy it.
There are some new arrangements of older songs – The Grass Is Blue, Little Sparrow – but the hits stay the way they were, just with a little more energy. Here You Come Again and Nine To Five are particularly strong. There are a couple of niggles, though. It is hard to put a live CD together seamlessly from two nights’ recordings, but not impossible; here, annoyingly, applause seems to jump in from nowhere, and fades curiously quickly a couple of times.
And the dear old thing is capable of some dreadful lapses. Backwoods Barbie is an awful song, and always was. Shinola isn’t much better. It’s when she doesn’t think too hard that her songs flow, though, and there are enough of these moments to render those two missteps absolutely irrelevant.